Today Show and Star Jones on Obesity Campaign

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Last year I worked on an Anti Childhood Obesity Campaign directed by David Stuart.  The campaign has received a lot of press for being in your face, unapologetic, and heart wrenching. The Toady Show featured the campaign (view commercials here) and conducted … Continue reading

NPR on Anti-Obesity Ads

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NPR All Things Considered Controversy Swirls Around Harsh Anti-Obesity Ads January 9, 2012 Stark billboards and television commercials that feature overweight kids are part of a controversial anti-obesity campaign in Atlanta. The goal of the “Stop Sugarcoating It, Georgia” ads … Continue reading

‘Damn Good Advice’ by George Lois

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http://www.npr.org Mon, 19 Mar 2012 ‘Damn Good Advice’ From One Of The Real ‘Mad Men’ Pioneering ad man George Lois is here to help you “unleash your creative potential.” In his new book, Lois shares his secrets for making a … Continue reading

Ad Man Legend, David Ogilvy, on Copywriting



In 1948, British-born David Ogilvy, started a Manhattan-based advertising agency, the future Ogilvy & Mather, responsible for some of the world’s most iconic ad campaigns. Ogilvy wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man in 1963, a best-selling book that is still considered essential reading for all who enter the industry.

In the letter below, Ogilvy describes his work habits as a copywriter to Mr. Ray Calt. Apparently, the key to his advertising genius was RUM!!!

April 19, 1955

Dear Mr. Calt:

On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:

1. I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.

2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.

3. I am helpless without research material—and the more “motivational” the better.

4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.

5. Before actually writing the copy, I write down every concievable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.

6. Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.

7. At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. (This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.)

8. I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.

9. If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.

10. The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.

11. Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. (I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.)

12. I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editing, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.

Altogether it is a slow and laborious business. I understand that some copywriters have much greater facility.

Yours sincerely,

D.O.

(Source: Letters of Note: I am a lousy copywriter. The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of His Writings from the Files of His Partners; Image: David Ogilvy, courtesy of Ads of the World.)